Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
It has been just over a year since the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use in the UK and since then we have given more than 5.5m doses of the life-saving vaccine to people in Wales.
I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in the vaccination programme for their hard work over the last year and for their help in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, coronavirus is still with us and the emergence of the omicron variant shows how unpredictable the pandemic continues to be.
Last week, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended an urgent extension of the booster vaccine to all adults over 18 and a booster dose to severely immunosuppressed adults who have received three doses. It also said children and young people aged 12 to 15-years-old should be offered a second dose. We accepted this advice and have been working with NHS Wales to plan how to speed up the vaccination programme.
We will offer all eligible adults a booster by the end of January. This will be another huge effort for our vaccination programme – and for our NHS – which has already done so much to protect people across Wales.
We are ramping up rollout and increasing capacity in the vaccination programme.
Health boards will be providing more vaccination centres in easy-to-access locations and more clinics. There will be longer opening hours in the evenings and at weekends and extra lanes at the mass vaccination centres. We will be working with GPs and community pharmacies to deliver the vaccine and with local government, fire services and students to provide additional support to the clinics. We have also requested further support from the military.
Those who want to volunteer to help the vaccination programme can do so by registering their support via the Welsh Government website and, for healthcare professionals, via the Health Education and Improvement Wales website.
To date, more than 80% of people over 65 have now received a booster. From today, if you are over 65 and haven’t yet had a letter about your booster appointment, please get in touch with your health board directly.
Our vaccination teams need support from the people in Wales. To help our NHS, I urge everyone to do everything they can to keep their allocated appointment.
If you are under 65 please be patient and wait to be invited for your booster even if it has been more than six months since your last vaccination. We are following the JCVI’s advice and will be vaccinating people in order of age and risk. You will be contacted when it is your turn and there is no need to call your health board or GP to check if you have an appointment.
It is extremely important people come forward for their appointments when called and it is never too late to be vaccinated, especially if you haven’t yet had your first dose.
We do not want anyone to be left behind. Every vaccination counts as we work together to keep Wales safe.